Pakistan military court sentences India naval officer to death News
Pakistan military court sentences India naval officer to death

[JURIST] A Pakistani military court on Monday sentenced Kulbushan Jadhav [The Hindu backgrounder], an Indian naval officer who was detained in Pakistan for the past year, to death. The court handed down [Times of India report] the death sentence after finding Jadhav guilty of espionage and sabotage. The sentence was subsequently approved by Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa [official profile]. The Indian government has responded by saying that the execution of Jadhav would amount to the “premeditated murder” of an Indian national by the Pakistani government. Jadhav was tried under the controversial Pakistan Army Act [text] and Official Secrets Act [text, PDF], which have been criticized for providing very little transparency into military courts.

Pakistan’s nine military courts were established in January of last year after Taliban militants attacked children in the Peshawar school massacre [BBC archive; JURIST report], killing 134 students and 19 adults. Military power was subsequently expanded, giving military courts jurisdiction to try civilians accused of terrorism despite the country’s civilian government. Critics argue that the new procedures defer too much power to the military. Allegations of torture and judicial abuse were widespread during the reign of previous Pakistani military courts. However, many Pakistanis support the military courts due to the crumbling civilian system. Pakistan’s use of the death penalty since December 2014 in both the civilian and military courts has faced widespread criticism. When the country’s six-year death penalty moratorium was lifted [JURIST report] that month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [official profile] said the death penalty would only be applied to terrorism-related cases. However, in March of last year the Pakistan Ministry of Interior lifted the country’s moratorium on the death penalty, permitting hangings for all prisoners [JURIST report] who have exhausted all possible appeals. The UN estimates that several hundred of the 8,000 inmates on Pakistan’s death row are minors [JURIST report].